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Erma's Story

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The day before Thanksgiving in November of 1999, I woke up with my right side temporarily paralyzed.  Thinking I had a stroke, my family doctor got me in that day.  After an examination, he made an appointment for me to be seen by a neurologist the following Monday.

After examination the neurologist diagnosed it as MS.  He told me to take total disability and enjoy sitting on my deck (which has never materialized).  Not willing to accept that prognosis without any kind of therapy or medications, I sought a second opinion.  The second neurologist sent me for physical therapy which lasted one session.  He also set out before me 3 or 4 mediations with the words “Try one.  It might work.”  After reading brochures, hearing a testimonial, and considering my overall health, I decided to try one of the medications.

Going back to work full time at a local extended care facility was hard because I had to learn to do everything with my left hand including treatments and writing. Thinking the diagnosis was wrong, my place of work had me submit to a third examination.  Again the diagnosis came back as MS.  While smaller, detailed work has been hard I didn’t retire from work until this past year at my full retirement age.

The diagnosis for breast cancer stage 2 came in 2007.  At that time, I was walking 2 miles most days, had a yearly mammogram which was negative, didn’t eat pork due to gallbladder issues, practiced my PMS (prayers, meditation, songs and scriptures),was into humor therapy and practiced BSE.  Upon final diagnosis, I had a simple mastectomy and 4 chemotherapy treatments.  The things that I felt helped me most were to work as much as possible, use humor and PMS, and surround myself with positive family and friends while avoiding negative ones.

                  So what have I learned?  In the book Strengthening Your Grip by Charles Swindoll he says “Words can never adequately convey the incredible impact of an attitude toward life.  The longer I live the more convinced I become that life is 10 per cent what happens to us and 90 percent how we respond to it. … I believe the single most significant decision I can make on a day-to-day basis is my choice of attitude.  It is more important than my past, my education, my bankroll, my successes or failures, fame or pain, what other people think of me or say about me, my circumstances , or my position.  Attitude is that single string that keeps me going on or cripples my progress.  It alone fuels my fire or assaults my hope.  When my attitudes are right there’s no barrier too high, no valley too deep, no dream too extreme, no challenge too great for me.”

                  So I would say:

  • Get help as needed - through literature, doctor, support group, friend, spouse
  • Control your thought life.
1. Starve self-pity - change Why to Why not and What now? 
2. Think on the positive.  Use what’s left not what’s lost.  
3. One can be bitter or better.  
4. Be determined. One can make it a prison or prism. Be joyful and happy.
  • Use humor.  While it isn’t a funny matter, it promotes positive healing in the body.  Get books, tapes, movies that makes you laugh, grandkids or children.
  • Help others - through phone calls, listening, or support group - Determine to be the pearl or diamond in someone else’s life
  • Go on - If you work, continue if possible.  Keep active.  Be involved in activities and with others.
  • Keep or get in touch with your Creator.  He can transform tragedies to triumphs. He knows us best.
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